Being attacked by a “pack of angry Chihuahuas” has to be as embarrassing as it is painful.
*Andrew McCarthy on the McCain torture bill. As I’ve said before (see here and here), I’m in favor of legislative action to make clearer what can and can’t be done in the interrogation process going forward, at least as far as setting some outer limits and clear permissions. But I’m really concerned that this bill is a disaster. If there’s one thing we don’t need, it’s getting the courts involved in this business or giving unlawful combatants anything like the rights of lawful combatants or common criminals.
*On a similar note, somehow, I doubt the people who loved Michael Scheuer’s book are going to laud this op-ed.
*German cowardice frees a terrorist.
*Jack Abramoff could plead guilty and testify against people on Capitol Hill. That’s the main development that’s needed for the whole Abramoff business to get interesting.
*Megan McArdle on the choices we make and why they should affect the money we make.
*Jack Dunphy on “Tookie” Williams complete with the predictable involvement of Jesse Jackson and Jackson’s equally predictable failure to even know the names of Williams’ victims. And Patterico on executing the innocent.
*One of Nathan Newman’s co-bloggers defends the TWU, but really ends up just demonstrating the pettiness of some of the issues involved. I still fail to see what makes bus drivers and token clerks’ jobs so extraordinarily valuable to society that they can demand a right to retire at 55, something the rest of us can only dream about. Soldiers? Cops? Firemen? Yes. But token clerks?
Sorry if blogging’s a bit slow at the moment, on top of everything else – work has been crazy the past month – I’m slowed by the transit strike (the LIRR, in its infinite wisdom, has closed my train station at rush hour as part of a “contingency plan”). I’m taking tomorrow off from work, so maybe I’ll get more done then.
*Ann Althouse wants cameras in the Supreme Court, in part as a way of subtly pressuring aging Justices to retire when they can’t do the job anymore. I’m not sure how many cases that would work in, but I strongly agree with Althouse and Dahlia Lithwick on this one: unlike at the trial court level, where TV cameras can affect the behavior of non-lawyer participants (witnesses, jurors) whose impartiality the system makes great effort to preserve, the dangers of cameras in the appellate courts are pretty minor, and at their lowest ebb at the Supreme Court, whose members have life tenure and nearly never have any further career ambitions.
*The Phillies dump Vincente Padilla, apparently on the theory that they have too much quality starting pitching.
*I like the White Sox’ acquisition of Javier Vazquez – unlike the Phillies, the ChiSox apparently aren’t complacent about their pitching staff – who seems like he should still have some good years left, but I do wonder if homer-friendly US Cellular Field is the best place for him.
*McQ has some thoughts on Iranian mischief in the south of Iraq.
*Dean Barnett has a great post noting Kos’ criteria for front-page contributors:
Markos made it clear what criteria he was and wasnâ€™t using in selecting the new guard:
“I made my decisions, like I have in the past, based on two factors — the first is merit. I don’t concern myself with sex, race, ethnicity, or any of that stuff. This is a site about politics, and I wanted the best commenters on politicsâ€¦That’s how I like it, no matter how controversial that might be.”
For clarity’s sake, I should point out that Markos never got around to identifying the second factor.
*Per Jonah Goldberg here and here, this sure looks like a deliberate policy of subsidizing suicide bombings.
*So, Joe Lieberman is loved by the GOP and hated by Democrats. Meanwhile, conservatives hate Lincoln Chaffee and Arlen Specter. But if Republicans traded Chaffee or Specter for Lieberman – even leaving aside questions about re-electability (Lieberman and Chaffee are up in 2006, Specter was elected to his final term in 2004), would we Republicans get a good deal? I’m not so sure. All three, like George Pataki and Christie Whitman, represent to a greater or lesser degree a New Republic-style brand of socially liberal, tax-cut-supporting, strong-on-defense, tough-on-crime, moderate-to-liberal on spending and regulatory issues Northeasterner who is poorly represented by both parties. But at least on domestic policy, Lieberman’s been a more loyal soldier for his party: the American Conservative Union gives lifetime ratings of 41 for Chaffee and 44 for Specter, compared to 17 for Lieberman.
*Scott Adams on good and bad jobs in the War on Terror.
*Don Rumsfeld on the media’s incomplete picture of Iraq.
*This Angry Bear chart of federal spending growth is a keeper, and provides great context. Via Instapundit.
I am nominated once again for Best Sports Blog in the Weblog Awards. Really, go and check out the other blogs that have been nominated.
*David Pinto notes some ridiculous puffery by Scott Boras about Johnny Damon, including an assertion that Damon is somehow better than Rickey Henderson. Of course, he’s just advocating for his client, but there’s a difference between honest and dishonest advocacy; any lawyer can tell you that, and dishonest advocacy doesn’t help your credibility in the long run (not that Boras needs credibility, with the clients he has). Comparing Damon to Rickey is just stupid; between 1995 and 2002, Damon had a better OBP than Rickey only once. And that’s for age 36-43 for Rickey compared to 21-28 for Damon. Also, over that same period Rickey stole 308 bases to Damon’s 214.
*Jack Shafer predicts the predictable.
*Corruption in US efforts in Iraq is a Bad Thing, if predictable given the nature of government contracting and the general principle that in chaos there is opportunity. At least DOJ has caught some people.
*Patterico on executing the innocent.
*Ralph Peters is more than a little over the top in this column on Democrats’ calls for withdrawal from Iraq, but it’s not entirely unwarranted. For a more measured take, here’s a fine post from Jon Henke on what separates the two sides in the Iraq debate as it exists today.
*Could Novak’s source have been Armitage? That would be quite the letdown for the Josh Marshalls of the world who see the Plame story as all about neocon perfidy, if it’s true.
*This doesn’t seem to helpful for Samuel Alito. (via Bashman)
*Byron York on “Boogie to Baghdad” and why some people just don’t want to remember it.
*This American Prospect article on Alito and machine guns is notable for its near-complete absence of analysis of the constitutional issues.
*The Rockefeller democrat. More here.
*The Win Shares system had Juan Uribe and Jhonny Peralta as by far the best defensive shortstops in the AL this year.
*The vanishing World War I vets.
*From a friend of the site: “Hopefully, more stories like this will eventually lead to less stories opening with five words like
this.” This is also a good point.
*When athletes in the US get in trouble, machetes and gasoline are not usually the weapons of choice.
*Not Larry Lucchino’s biggest fans.
*More goodies from QandO here and here.
*Brad Wilkerson on the block?
*This doesn’t sound like a meritorious lawsuit, given the plaintiff’s concession – why did his lawyer let him speak to the press? – that Home Depot wasn’t responsible for gluing him to the toilet.
*Jeff Goldstein on Michael Steele.
*LOoking back, a friend wondered about Harriet Miers’ financial disclosures why a single woman who spent so many years in private parctice as a law firm partner didn’t have more money.
Unfortunately, as happens from time to time, I’m just too swamped at work to blog this week. I should be back by Monday the 28th, or possibly by Friday. Have a Happy Thanksgiving!
UPDATE: Looks like I picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue. If I can get a few work things wrapped up, I’ll have to weigh in later today on the Delgado deal.
I’ve got the MT Closecomments plugin installed on the blog (MT 3.121), so comments to old entries show up as needing approval. But I would like to block them entirely, as well as trackbacks to old entries; I’m getting inundated with hundreds of spam comments & spam trackbacks at a clip, which seriously eats into my blogging time. Anyone have suggestions?
*Ricky West has a nice tribute to his 23-year-old nephew. Go see why.
*Proof of a housing bubble – or a good omen for the future? Baghdad’s real estate market is booming.
*Some social conservatives balk at a new vaccine for cervical cancer because it might encourage underage sex:
Because the vaccine protects against a sexually transmitted virus, many conservatives oppose making it mandatory, citing fears that it could send a subtle message condoning sexual activity before marriage. Several leading groups that promote abstinence are meeting this week to formulate official policies on the vaccine.
Via MBOnline. Sorry fellas, I’m as opposed to teenagers having unmarried sex as you are, but this is where I get off the bus. This is cancer we’re talking about here (and who thinks STDs serve a useful purpose anyway?). Look, if you don’t want kids to be encouraged to have sex, don’t tell them what it’s for, or warn them it won’t stop them from getting pregnant, etc. But don’t stop the vaccine.
*Gerry Daly on vote fraud and abuse of the old and the feeble by Detroit Democrats.
*How British are you? A (British) citizenship quiz from the BBC. Via Oxblog. I got six of 14 right, which sounds about right for a semi-informed foreigner who’s never been there and hasn’t read the pamphlet.
*Also from Oxblog, David Adesnik’s one-step plan for Bush to survive Plamegate: “Win the war in Iraq. History will only rememeber Scootergate if America fails in Baghdad.”
*Judd Gregg wins $850,000 in the Powerball drawing
*Tom DeLay’s mug shot is a picture of defiance.
*Mac Thomason on the grim economics that will force the Braves to use even fewer good players to win the division next year.
*Ed Moltzen on Kathleen Willey and Valerie Plame.
*Minas Tirith and the fall of Constantinople. (Via the rejuvenated American Scene).
*Blez is ready to do without umps calling pitches and have machines call balls and strikes. Is the technology really workable to give reliable ball-strike calls for each hitter’s zone? If so, I could live with this.
*Chris Lynch thinks it’s time to start thinking about Larry Walker as a serious Hall of Fame candidate. I’m not sure about that one, but Walker shouldn’t be penalized for his home park, as he really has been a fine hitter everywhere he’s been.
*Powerline has the text of a motion to dismiss the second indictment of Tom DeLay. It certainly sounds like DeLay has valid grounds to dismiss the indictment, on the basis of the statutes at issue not covering his conduct and, possibly, improper venue. (There’s no shame in being acquitted on technicalities when you are charged with a technical offense in the first place). But then, criminal defense attorneys often make arguments that sound persuasive until you see what the facts or law really are; I don’t know enough about the Texas statutes in question to know if this holds water.
*Comedian/actor Charles Rocket has committed suicide. Maybe it’s just me, but I could never keep Rocket straight from John Heard. I think it’s just that they shared a similar stable of facial ticks.
*Jeff Goldstein notes the massive allocation of resources to arrests for marijuana possession. I’m generally – if somewhat weakly – in favor of criminalization of marijuana (in part on a broken-windows theory), but the problem with enforcing the law against pot is that you end up with a choice between (1) using vast resources better spent elsewhere or (2) enforcing the law in an arbitrary manner (and as we all know, a law arbitrarily enforced is far more susceptible to being a law discriminatorily enforced). This is one reason why I think the federal government, at least, should get out of the pot-busting business and leave to local governments the decision of what resources to allocate to this area.
*Leon H has a disturbing story about an affiliate of the American Girl doll company.
*Here’s a bizarre headline about North Korea: “Report: Kim has chosen 2nd son, an NBA fan, to succeed him.”
David Stern’s long arm grows ever longer.
*Mike Brown should be thankful that in the US, scapegoats only get fired.
*A word in favor of today’s soldiers. And a word about recruiting from someone who knows.
*I haven’t looked at the legislation in detail, but I agree with Instapundit that a Congressional effort to promulgate rules for the handling of detainees is a good thing, for reasons I’ve explained before.
*This, also via Instapundit, just amazed me. Next up, UK Committee on Un-Islamic Activities? We’re at war, and our allies are rotting from within.
*A stolen vote of the type you won’t hear much about.
As always, good to have visitors from Bill Simmons’ place stopping by. Unfortunately, I’ve been too busy with work to post anything substantive the last few days . . . For those of you who are dropping by for the first time, look around; there’s a lot of stuff here going back five years. This site covers politics, war, the law, pop culture and various other stuff; while I usually do more baseball during the playoffs, I’ve been writing a lot the last two weeks about the Supreme Court. You can hit the link at the top to just view the baseball posts.
I’ve been nominated for the “Best Political Blog” in the Small Dead Blog Awards over at The Roadkill Diaries.
*Duff McKagan of Guns n’ Roses goes back to school to get an education in finance (via Kevin Cott). This does’t sound like fun:
McKagan’s drug abuse was so severe that his pancreas exploded, causing third-degree burns inside his intestines and stomach.
*Lileks: “Calling the contractors to find out why no one showed up is never as cathartic as you think it will be.”
*Harriet Miers, Number 67.
*This would be a tough test to have to take for a clerkship.
*Kevin Drum makes sense on why the Democrats need the middle more than Republicans do. He quotes EJ Dionne:
According to the network exit polls, 21 percent of the voters who cast ballots in 2004 called themselves liberal, 34 percent said they were conservative and 45 percent called themselves moderate.
Drum, writing before the confirmation of Roberts and the Miers nomination:
These numbers have been rock steady for decades, and their meaning is simple: energizing the base just isn’t enough for Democrats. Even if every hardcore liberal in the country votes Democratic, we have to win about three-quarters of the moderates to gain a majority. That means we have to win support pretty far into the conservative end of that moderate center, and people like that simply aren’t going to respond to anti-war rallies and screaming campaigns against John Roberts.
This is one reason I haven’t blogged much about Roberts. The liberal blogosphere has made opposition to Roberts practically a litmus test of “getting it,” of understanding that liberals can play every bit as hard as conservatives. But you know what? It’s the netroots that doesn’t get it. They think unyielding opposition to Roberts shows how tough we are, but what most Americans see – including all those moderates whose votes we need – is a guy who seems conservative, but also mild mannered, intelligent, and well qualified. It’s true that he took nonresponsiveness to whole new levels during his confirmation hearings, but let’s face it: that particular Kabuki dance started after Robert Bork flamed out spectactularly for being a little too forthcoming to Senate questioners. Roberts just refined it a bit.
The fact is, by every previous standard of Supreme Court nominees, Roberts is well qualified for his position. Is he conservative? Of course he is. But that’s because the American public elected a conservative president and a conservative Senate. If we want better nominees, that’s what needs to change.
And the way to change that is to change the minds of centrist voters who are tiring of George Bush and the Republican party but still wary of Democrats. They may say they’re fed up with Bush, but when it comes time to pull the lever on election day they also need to feel like it’s safe to vote for a Democrat. Right now they still don’t.
Of course, the corollary is that the GOP needs its base more than the Democrats do – which is something Bush seems to have forgotten with the Miers nomination. I’m not sure which is the more depressing possibility: that Bush, Cheney and Rove didn’t know that this nomination would provoke a furious reaction from the base (which was entirely predictable), or that they didn’t care. It was one thing to blow off the base on an issue like steel tarriffs, which are pretty small potatos to most people and could be explained in terms of obvious political benefits. But the Supreme Court is, for a large segment of the GOP, the #1 or #2 issue in presidential elections, often trailing only national security and/or taxes.
Interesting profile of CNN’s Anderson Cooper. I did not know he was a Vanderbilt; he’s one of those people who just suddenly appeared on TV and it seemed like everybody knew who he was. Cooper’s had a rough life . . . the funny thing is, the anchors are such creatures of the Manhattan establishment, yet the Big Three were mostly self-made men haling from far from the East Coast, without much in terms of social or educational pedigree – Rather’s a Texan, Brokaw’s from South Dakota, Jennings was from Canada. Cooper is more from the background you’d expect in a big media guy, the background that most New York Times reporters come from.
*Instapundit thinks spending federal funds and law enforcement resources battling adult (i.e., not child) pornography is a waste of resources. I agree. Porn is a classic example of the sort of thing that, even if you are going to crack down on it, ought to be left to the local level; as the Supreme Court recognized decades ago, what counts as obscene in one community may be acceptable in another. And it’s awfully difficult to argue that pornography has any truly national impact, except by making arguments under which any bad thing has a national impact.
*Unless I remember incorrectly, this represents the first indictment of a Bush Administration official. That’s a marked difference from the record of prosecutions in the Clinton Administration (or the Reagan or Carter Administrations, for that matter). If the history of two-term presidencies is any indicator, this will not be the last.
*Youppi! is back, after a year spent living under an overpass in Montreal carrying a “Will Mascot For Food” sign (in French, of course). (via Kevin Cott).
*Now, Tom DeLay says, “There are programs all over the federal budget that are bloated or wasteful or inefficiently using the funds we provide them, and I’m very interested in identifying them.” How long has DeLay been in Congress?
Some are arguing that it’s time for divided government – that Democrats in Congress would at least produce some pork-killing gridlock. I mean to get to this point in more detail when it’s time to discuss the McCain 2008 campaign, but while fighting pork is a good thing, the real battle is to change the structure of the budget process and rein in entitlements – neither of which would ever be helped even one little bit by electing more Democrats. But I’m not that optimistic that we’re getting anywhere on that front under the GOP, either.
*This looks like a bad idea. So does this, if it means that partisan sniping has led the Bush White House to divert one of its best homeland security people to handle an investigation.
*Rafael Palmeiro is being investigated by Congress for perjury. Which serves him right, but if we’re on the subject of waste of taxpayer money, this is a rather conspicuous example.
Slightly more than half of American teenagers, ages 15 to 19, have engaged in oral sex, with females and males reporting similar levels of experience, according to the most comprehensive national survey of sexual behaviors ever released by the federal government.
The report today by the National Center for Health Statistics shows that the figure increases to about 70 percent of 18- and 19-year-olds.
The survey, according to those who work with young people, offers one more sign that young women are more sexually confident than they used to be.
As a friend writes, “One could, accurately, replace the word ‘confident’ with ‘promiscuous.'”
*Is Anderson Hernandez on the way?
*Michael Newdow may have won another round in California, but the US District Court in DC rejected his attempt to get a permanent injunction against prayers at the inauguration of the President. (Link opens PDF file).
*Maybe you saw, or heard, the tearful story told on national TV by Jefferson Parish president Aaron Broussard:
The guy who runs this building I’m in, emergency management, he’s responsible for everything. His mother was trapped in a St. Bernard nursing home and every day she called him and said, ‘Are you coming, son? Is somebody coming?’ And he said, ‘Yeah, Mama, somebody’s coming to get you. Somebody’s coming to get you on Tuesday. Somebody’s coming to get you on Wednesday. Somebody’s coming to get you on Thursday. Somebody’s coming to get you on Friday.’ And she drowned Friday night. She drowned Friday night.
If so, you were lied to. Via Jeff Goldstein, who has been en fuego on the Hurricane Katrina story, to the point that he can barely keep his server running.
*Wonder if the people who got all bent out of shape over the Tom Delay-Homeland Security-Texas Legislature flap will go nuts over a Louisiana Democratic Congressman, who is perhaps not coincidentally under federal investigation, diverting the National Guard to clear possessions out of his house rather than save people.
*Speaking of DeLay, if he really believes Congress is doing a good job holding the line on spending and there is no fat left to cut in the budget, it is clearly past time for the House GOP to go get itself a new leader. Via NRO (and yes, I’ve seen subsequent reports putting the quote in context – they make it a little more understandable but no more defensible.
*Then there’s the story of a 57-year-old New Orleans man who drew on his long-ago training as a Vietnam veteran and walked out of town. Via Brian Preston, who has likewise been all over Katrina and its aftermath.
*Classic George Will (via NRO). Favorite line: “You can no more embarrass a senator than you can a sofa.”
*Go read Ann Althouse on John Roberts’ view of the use of foreign law in interpreting the United States Constitution (hint: he’s agin’ it).
*So, what does the Chief Justice do? His main importance on the Court is that he picks who writes the opinions, out of the Justices in the majority (if he joins the majority – Burger used to switch sides just so he could control who wrote what). Rehnquist was reportedly less interested in using this power, except when he wanted one for himself. It was presumably Rehnquist who decided that the Bush v. Gore opinion should be an unsigned per curiam opinion.
However, the Chief has other jobs all to himself, such as heading the Judicial Conference and power of appointment for FISA court judges; this article explains these duties well. And more here. Also, as we recall, he presides at trial if the President gets impeached, although the way Rehnquist interpreted this role left most of the procedural rulings to be made by the Senate, not the Chief Justice.
*Some jokes never get old, especially #4 here.
*Mark Steyn, as usual, had the definitive word on the “Crescent of Embrace” design for the Flight 93 memorial, which has since been scrapped:
[T]he men who hijacked Flight 93 did it in the name of Islam and their last words as they hit the Pennsylvania sod were no doubt “Allahu Akhbar”. One would be unlikely even today to come across an Allied D-Day memorial so misconceived in its spirit of reconciliation as to be called the Swastika of Embrace. Yet Paul Murdoch, the architect, has somehow managed to produce a design whose two most obvious interpretations are a) a big nothing or b) a splendid memorial to the hijackers rather than their victims.
In order to draw attention to Wal-Mart’s paying its workers an average of $10.17 an hour with benefits, the UFCW hired a bunch of temps at $6.00 an hour with no benefits. And while the oppressed, exploited Wal-Mart workers slave away in air-conditioned comfort, those blessed with the Union paychecks walk up and down outside in the sun until they get blisters on their feet. The Wal-Mart workers are coerced into taking regular breaks in a private area; the Union employees are dropped off at the beginning of their shift and left to fend for themselves for the entire day.
If the Democrats really want people who work and shop at Wal-Mart to vote Republican, and they get the people who hate the place, I’ll take that deal. Dick Cheney understands that.
Google Blog Search arrives. WaPo has the story.
Which reminds me of something I’ve noticed while searching Technorati and Blogpulse. In my ordinary blog reading, I am constantly amazed by how many talented writers there are out there, people with something to say and a knack for saying it. There are many hundreds of such blogs now, carrying on scores of conversations about every issue under the sun, although I mainly read blogs on politics and baseball.
But then, when you go outside of the widely-read and widely-linked parts of the blogosphere, and start running across things written on LiveJournal and Xanga and the like, you realize how many people there really are out there who just can’t write – or, apparently, think – to save their lives. It’s quite an eye-opener. Granted, some of them are teenagers who will learn eventually, but still.
Well, the Mets are officially dead – when you get swept in such backbreaking fashion and then roll over the next day and play dead, it’s over. Stephen Keane and Faith and Fear in Flushing had some pointed thoughts on the final collapse at Turner Field; I hadn’t seen the report about the likelihood of the Mets non-tendering Vic Zambrano, but it makes sense.
On to other things:
*Will the Saints go marching out of New Orleans? This from Deadspin, the new-to-me Gawker sports blog. I’m skeptical that there are enough sodomy jokes in sports to keep a Gawker/Wonkette/Defamer-style blog in business, but these guys do have a successful track record. Personally, I drop by a few of the Gawker blogs from time to time, and almost always come away disappointed.
*Mickey Kaus asks whether the NEA is using the hurricane as an excuse to evade standards imposed by No Child Left Behind. I can see exempting kids who just arrived in your school from the tests, but exempting whole districts and states is just a little too clever a trick.
*How crazy can the Kos/MoveOn left get? Plenty crazy. I dare you to guess what they’re speculating about now, before you click this link and find out. Via Llama Butchers, who think Karl Rove has been spiking MoveOn’s happy juice again.
*Varifrank has a thought-provoking essay on the possibility that mass tort lawsuits will render New Orleans uninhabitable and ruin the state and city governments (via Instapundit). Meanwhile, Prof. Bainbridge and the Wall Street Journal ($) ponder how the legal system in Louisiana will survive the inundation of courthouses and law offices and the destruction of evidence and docket files.
*From a few months back (obviously), Annika’s guide to the Supreme Court. Hilarious.
*You don’t usually see studies linking “Marines, Korean men, gays and transsexuals”, but this one does. The LA Times’ effort to come up with a politically palatable explanation is very amusing.
*Will Mitt Romney’s Mormonism hurt him with evangelical Christians in the GOP primary? The author is obviously ill-disposed towards conservatives generally, but there are a few points in here I didn’t know about the intensity of anti-Mormon sentiment.
*The latest here and here on medical reports about the death of Yasser Arafat.
*Long profile of Bill Clinton by a sympathetic liberal writer who nonetheless picks at a few of Clinton’s flaws; I had intended to comment on this, including some of the sillier anti-Bush potshots, but there’s too much in here and too much else going on. Read the whole thing.
I am now officially back at one of those points where computer difficulties are eating up most of what would usually be my blogging time. I have a few not-quite-finished posts I’ll try and get wrapped and posted later in the day.
I’m getting comments emailed to me that are posted on the site, but for some reason they aren’t showing up in my MT or on the blog. Anybody with any idea of why or of how to fix this, please let me know (by email, not by comments).
If I can get the comments working again, I’ll re-post the ones that got swallowed.
UPDATE: Here’s the error message I got while trying to post a comment:
An error occurred:
Rebuild failed: Building entry ‘BLOG: No Comment’ failed: Build error in template ‘Individual Entry Archive’: Error in
Use of uninitialized value in numeric ge (>=) at lib/MT/App/Comments.pm line 151.
Use of uninitialized value in concatenation (.) or string at lib/MT/Builder.pm line 141.
Use of uninitialized value in concatenation (.) or string at lib/MT/Builder.pm line 141.
UPDATE #2 (Tuesday Morning): OK, now I can’t find any sign on MT of the 3,000+ comments left on this site over the past two and a half years.
*Characteristically brilliant Mark Steyn column (reg. req.) taking the long view on why we should be optimistic about Iraq’s future in general and its new constitution in particular, comparing it favorably to the failed EU constitution:
The Kurds drove a hard bargain and the Shia accepted it. The Sunnis did not. Sad, but not fatal. You wait around for unanimity, you wait for ever. The US framers said nine out of 13 states would be enough to proceed, and Rhode Island and North Carolina were still not on board at George Washington’s inauguration. Quebec, incidentally, has still not signed the Canadian constitution.
There’s nothing wrong with the hard-fought trade-offs of smoke-filled rooms: that’s what the US constitution is, and, come to that, Magna Carta. The flop constitutions, on the other hand, are those that reflect the modish unanimity of a homogeneous ruling class – like the European constitution. The Iraqi document is a very subtle instrument: it effectively uses Sunni intransigence to give the Shia majority an interest in Kurdish federalism – and, if in the end that doesn’t work, supplies the mechanism for 85 per cent of the Iraqi population not to get sucked down with the hold-outs. As the aerial TV shots of looters in New Orleans remind us, at defining moments not every citizen rises to the occasion. What matters is that enough do. The Iraqi constitution understands that.
As always, read the whole thing.
*John Hawkins asks whether we really should rebuild New Orleans. A hard question, but a necessary one in the weeks to come. Louisiana without New Orleans is all but unthinkable, and abandoning cities is emotionally hard to do (the Japanese rebuilt Hiroshima, after all). But it would be wise to consider whether the city can be structurally reconfigured as a smaller and less vulnerable one.
*New Orleans-based Ernie the Attorney, who’s been dealing with the aftermath of the catastrophe himself, recommends this book about the 1927 flood of the Mississippi.
*Former Red Sox Ace Mel Parnell is apparently among the missing, as is rock legend Fats Domino (UPDATE: They found Domino). While the worst impact of the hurricane and the deluge – especially in New Orleans – predictably fell on the sick, the old and the very poor, many of whom are now dead or in mortal peril, the rich and powerful weren’t spared the destruction of homes: among those who reportedly lost their homes include Trent Lott, Bobby Jindal and several other Louisiana Congressmen, and the Neville Brothers. The rain, as the Bible reminds us, falls on the rich and the poor, the just and the unjust.
*Rod Dreher suggests a way we can expect help from the French in rebuilding New Orleans.
*The finger-pointing can wait for later, but McQ does have some useful background here, and more here from the Wall Street Journal.
*Lost in the flood-related news was the sudden death of supply-side guru and all-around gadfly Jude Wanniski. Wanniski wasn’t always right or even rational, and he allied himself with all sorts of horrendous people and ideas along the way, but he was provocative and influential, and should be duly remembered.
*I agree with Kevin Drum’s thoughts on the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, Ann Althouse on Jon Stewart and Bill Maher, and these thoughts on looters from Ted Frank, Jonah Goldberg, and Instapundit (also here).
*Dean Barnett thinks Bill Weld will beat Spitzer. (via Ace). It’s not likely, but it’s possible, and a match between a true libertarian like Weld and a dedicated nanny-stater like Spitzer could provide an interesting contrast. Howie Carr, on the other hand, thinks the Bill Weld of 2005 is not the Bill Weld of 1990, and all but calls Weld a shiftless drunk. Obviously, the key question is whether Weld still has the fire in the belly to run a tough race against an unusually ruthless opponent.
*Ann Althouse discusses the issue of men who lose sexual desire for their wives after witnessing childbirth. My advice: as the dad, you’re not delivering the baby, you’re providing moral support. Stay up at the head of the bed, look your wife in the eye, and hold her hand. That’s all she needs anyway.
*Interesting USA Today profile of Sandy Alderson.
Eric McErlain sends word that he’s blogging at a backup Blogspot site while waiting for HostingMatters to resolve a Denial of Service attack on another customer that’s disabled his site.
Lawrence Lynch on Buddy Bell and anti-war protests at Arlington National Cemetary.
*This Michael Yon combat journal is a must-read, albeit of the “print and read at leisure” variety due to its length. Yon is that rare journalist who gets so close to the fight that, in this instance, he had to pick up and fire a weapon.
*Quote of the week, from Justice Scalia (of course):
Now the Senate is looking for moderate judges, mainstream judges. What in the world is a moderate interpretation of a constitutional text? Halfway between what it says and what we’d like it to say?
*LaShawn Barber on the DaVinci Code movie; I hadn’t realized it was quite so perniciously anti-Christian. And yes, that bothers me a lot more in a movie than in a book; at least books are read by people who read. Of course, I agree with one of her readers that, in contrast to the Muslim reaction to similar provocations, “the DaVinci Code’s movie release may provide an opportunity for Christians to show that we can oppose such a blasphemous work without resorting to violence . . . ”
*The US has, in fact, been quite fortunate not to have the sort of radicalized and subversive Muslim population that exists in Europe. But Wizbang notes that that doesn’t always mean that American Muslims are sympathetic and cooperative in efforts to root out terrorists in their midst.
*Via Instapundit, the international tribunal investigating the Rafik Hariri murder may be closing in on pointing the finger at the only plausible suspect, the Syrian government. Of course, that will once again front-burner the issue of what to do about Syria; we would desperately like to see the end of the Assad tyranny, which (as this investigation is likely to show) has grown incompetent in addition to brutal. But unlike in Iraq, Iran and Lebanon, there’s not a lot of cause for optimism in the short term about a democracy movement arising to take Assad’s place. Still, as always, there’s no way out but forward.
*Stuart Buck catches Jack Balkin, who is a very smart liberal law professor, giving away the game in defending the “living constitution” as opposed to originalism:
Originalists are right that the Constitution is binding law, but they confuse the constitutional text — which is binding — with original understanding and original intentions, which are not. A living Constitution requires that judges faithfully apply the constitutional text, given the meanings the words had when they were first enacted, applying those words to today’s circumstances.
(Emphasis mine). Of course, reading the words to mean what they meant when they were first enacted is precisely what originalists set out to do. But go read Stuart’s whole analysis, which points to more concrete examples of why Balkin’s framing of the issues doesn’t get him where he wants to go.
*Buck again, on humorless liberals calling John Roberts a sexist for what any lawyer, or any person with a little perspective, would instantly recognize as a lawyer joke.
*The people losing their homes in the Kelo case in New London are now being billed by the city for rent for living in their own homes.
*From the Blogometer, yes, people on the left are eagerly blaming Bush for the hurricane:
For more than a few lefty bloggers, Pres. Bush bears a lot of responsibility for the suffering that is expected. Diarist Patricia Taylor at Daily Kos: “Historically, it is the National Guard, along with other emergency personnel, who attempt to provide emergency services to the community in disaster relief situations like Katrina. And where are these National Guard right now? Iraq.” Wampum calls it “A Bush-made catastrophe in the making…” Skippy the Bush Kangaroo and Swing State Project make similar points. So does Steve Gilliard, who writes: “The next closest thing to this is a nuclear explosion.” AMERICAblog suggests that New Orleans could get more attention from the Bush admin. by renaming the storm “Hurricane Terri”; a little Photoshop work places Terri Schiavo’s face over the eye of the storm. TalkLeft: “One other point: we need to stop destroying the Louisiana wetland which serves as a buffer.” Wizbang’s Paul picks up the Daily Kos diary, and adds this comment: “Actually if the dumbass used google news they would have known the Guard is in the Superdome.” Liberal BooMan Tribune: “It looks like it is time to put partisanship and politics aside. Dealing with this calamity is going to require a unified approach from all Americans.”
Due to technical difficulties, I wasn’t able to log on to the blog this morning. Blogging to follow later.
My high school alumni newsletter came, and noted the death of a classmate. I Googled around and came up with a story on his death from my old hometown newspaper, from late July:
YONKERS — Timothy Langer, who lost his pregnant wife in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center, died Monday of liver failure at age 34.
His family is calling him an indirect victim of the attacks.
“He didn’t quite know how to plug back into life,” his brother, Thomas Langer, 35, said. “He had big shoulders that he carried all that pain with — and I say that’s poison. In my opinion, that’s what killed him.”
Elaine Langer, his mother, said the death of his wife and unborn child destroyed her son.
“He was happy, he was well-adjusted. He just couldn’t cope with the pain. He self-medicated,” she said yesterday amid funeral preparations. “He was a wonderful kid. He was the life of the party. Everyone would talk to him, and then they would go away happy. Unfortunately, Timmy just carried all that pain. He couldn’t get rid of it.”
Langer, who ran in [sic] Internet business, called his mother every morning and every night to see how she was, she said tearfully. “You don’t get too many sons like that. He was a sweet, sweet kid.”
In his early 20s, Langer suffered a catastrophic motorcycle accident that left him paralyzed below the chest. Doctors gave him a 2 percent chance of recovery, his mother said. But with hope and determination, he learned to walk again.
Last I had heard of Langer was when I heard about the motorcycle accident, so it’s good to hear he had gotten things going his way, for a while, anyway.
Russia now has more abortions than births, to go with the shortest life expectancy in Europe. If an animal population had this problem, they’d be on the Endangered Species List. And Russia doesn’t have offsetting immigration the way Western Europe’s declining societies do.
What’s probably needed in Russia is a religious revival. Maybe the Mormons should get to work there.
UPDATE: I don’t quote him very often (because I don’t agree with him very often), but Pat Buchanan was all over this trend two years ago.
*The husband of Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey has cashed in $13 million in stock options, giving her a huge potential campaign war chest. Hint: nobody cashes in $13 million in options to run for Lt. Gov. Yet another sign that Mitt Romney is running for president, in which case he won’t run for re-election in 2006, in which case Healey will be the GOP candidate.
*Bush is reading a book about the history of salt, as well as one on the 1918 flu pandemic.
*Ed Morrissey on Jamie Gorelick.
*Morrissey again, on the March 2001 arrest of Iraqi agents in Germany on suspicion of spying, including contemporaneous (i.e., pre-9/11) press reports that the arrests were related to contacts between Iraq and bin Laden. From a summary of a report in a Paris-based Arabic newspaper:
Al-Watan al-Arabi (Paris) reports that two Iraqis were arrested in Germany, charged with spying for Baghdad. The arrests came in the wake of reports that Iraq was reorganizing the external branches of its intelligence service and that it had drawn up a plan to strike at US interests around the world through a network of alliances with extremist fundamentalist parties.
The most serious report contained information that Iraq and Osama bin Ladin were working together. German authorities were surprised by the arrest of the two Iraqi agents and the discovery of Iraqi intelligence activities in several German cities. German authorities, acting on CIA recommendations, had been focused on monitoring the activities of Islamic groups linked to bin Ladin. They discovered the two Iraqi agents by chance and uncovered what they considered to be serious indications of cooperation between Iraq and bin Ladin. The matter was considered so important that a special team of CIA and FBI agents was sent to Germany to interrogate the two Iraqi spies.
*Andrew McCarthy looks more closely at how new information informs the longstanding controversy over a Czech intelligence finding that Mohammed Atta met with an Iraqi intelligence operative in Prague the following month, April 2001. The evidence remains contradictory and ambiguous. But the salient point is the extent to which the 9/11 Commission reached a predetermined conclusion on the issue without looking more carefully at the facts.
*Patrick Ruffini on how Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News and NY Post may be pulling their punches on Hillary Clinton. And is Hillary “Joe Lieberman in a pants suit”?
*A response to Juan Cole’s effort to blame the death of pro-war journalist Steven Vincent on Vincent having an alleged affair with his translator. Cole just can’t resist kicking a man while he’s dead. Via Stuart Buck.
*Mary Katherine Ham on whether newspaper reporters know more about the Iraq war than the people fighting the war, and other lessons for the media. Via Wizbang.
I know it’s a bit hard to keep track, since I celebrate three different blogoversaries, but yesterday was the third anniversary of the start of my old Blogspot blog, and thus my transformation from an Internet columnist to a blogger. Boy, 2002 seems like a long time ago now, doesn’t it?
OK, this has to be one of my all time favorite ways someone reached this site through a Google search. (WARNING: Google search contains a Harry Potter #6 spoiler. Seriously.)
UPDATE: This is apparently what they were looking for (via Den Beste, yes, that Den Beste). It’s pretty funny. (Same spolier warnings apply).
So, I spent last week on vacation in Southern California with my wife and kids, visiting family and seeing all the touristy sights we could squeeze into a week. It was the first time I’d been to California – in fact, until this year I’d never been west of Chicago. It’s not hard to see why people fall in love with the place the first time they see it. Thoughts and impressions:
*We stayed in Newport Beach, which is something like 50 miles south of downtown LA and thus turned out to be ideally strategically located to hit the sights ranging from the hills north of LA down to Seaworld in San Diego. It’s also a very nice town with a beautiful public beach, and wasn’t as expensive as some of the surrounding towns as far as hotel rooms. Highly recommended.
*We hit Dodger Stadium and four theme parks – Disneyland, Legoland, Seaworld, and Universal Studios (if we’d had more time, I’d have liked to see the Angels and Padres as well). All of them were fun, although there was a limit to how much the kids could do at Universal. The theme parks were all extremely expensive (especially Legoland and Universal), although in our case we were able to get, through family and other sources, a variety of free tickets, discounts, coupons, and even (in the case of Seaworld) half-priced scalped tickets outside the entrance. Seaworld probably had the best food and, by far, the most reasonably priced souvenirs. Disney, of course, had the worst parking situation (the exits to the trams to different parking areas are very badly marked at night). I was very impressed with Dodger Stadium, which is every bit as beautiful and peaceful a place to see a game as it looks on TV, although my one gripe was the difficulty of locating an exit (at Shea, this is never a problem, as there are ramps heading out everywhere you look), and the Dodger Dog is not up to the standards of a New York ballpark hot dog. Legoland, of course, is a geek’s paradise, with miniature models of several American cities (go there now while they still have the original design of the Freedom Tower, the design that will now never be created in the actual Manhattan). At Universal, we saw the “Waterworld” show, which was billed, with a straight face, as “based on the hit movie.” While the plot was really too thin even for an outdoor theme park show, the show was definitely worth seeing for the live special effects, which included a lot of things blowing up, catching fire, and plunging into the water (on the other hand, the actors in the show couldn’t even meet minimal action-movie standards of realism in handling firearms). I hadn’t realized that Seaworld is owned by Anheuser-Busch, which is why along with whales and dolphins you get a Clydesdale display and “beer school.”
*We saw an awful lot of the freeways, putting over 900 miles on the rental car in 8 days. An observation: Californians refer to their highways as “the 405,” “the 5,” etc., which sounded strange to me – in New York, you would just say, “95,” not “the 95.” Also, the concept of “free” is so ingrained that when you get on a toll road, there are warnings after warnings for miles before you hit a single toll booth. Coming from Queens, the traffic did not seem nearly as bad as we’d heard; we hit some momentary traffic heading to San Diego and did get stuck a little going from Universal to the Dodger game, but nothing like an ordinary trip on the Cross-Bronx Expressway. Even from the highways – especially the Pacific Coast Highway – the natural beauty of California is staggering, and the manmade views aren’t bad either. There was one view we saw a few times at night, on 73 heading north into Newport Beach, where you pass over a ridge and suddenly have the whole of LA laid out below you, not bunched in a Manhattan-ish skyline but with the lights of modern civilization at nighttime stretching as far in every direction as the eye can see. It looked like George Lucas’ vision of the city-planet of Coruscant from space.
*We encountered, especially with the (very friendly) guys sitting behind us at Dodger Stadium, a number of people in LA who use the word “dude” as if it were a required form of punctuation, without which one can’t conclude a sentence fragment, let alone a complete sentence. Another thing that surprised me: wine for sale everywhere, in supermarkets and convenience stores, and not just a bottle or two but rows and rows of the stuff.
*As to the Dodger game, we saw Tuesday night’s game against the Phillies; all the better to miss the Mets, so we could root for the home team. The Dodgers were, once again, leading off Cesar Izturis, who has a .222 on base percentage since June 1, the worst in baseball by a margin of 42 points. And people wonder why they don’t score any runs. The Phillies were pitching Robinson Tejeda, who may have a good arm – he struck out Jeff Kent three times with men on base – but just could not find the plate, which is borne out by his walk rate this season. Brad Penny was masterful for the Dodgers before the bullpen imploded.
*We saw a few more Bush bumperstickers than Kerry ones, although this may mean little enough nine months after the election (here in NY, the number of Kerry-Edwards stickers dropped off rapidly after the election), plus Newport Beach, at least, is in what used to be the heart of Republican territory. The hotel and the theme parks were also plagued with a ridiculous proliferation of state-law-mandated warnings and disclaimers, nearly none of which made much sense (did you know that Disney may contain tobacco and other potentially cancer-causing agents?). At Seaworld, they asked the people in the audience at the Shamu show who were military or military families to stand for applause, and quite a lot of people stood up – that’s San Diego for you.
*Yes, we managed to see endless TV replays of the Beltran-Cameron collision in what was otherwise the all-Terrell-Owens sports networks. The only two OF collisions that scary that I can remember are (1) Johnny Damon and Damian Jackson in the 2003 ALDS and (2) the Mookie Wilson-Lenny Dykstra collision that ended with Mookie’s teeth marks across Lenny’s nose.
Anyway, a fine time was had by all. Regular blogging to resume tomorrow.
We just got back last night from a week’s vacation in Southern California (preemptive disclaimer: we had a full schedule with family and sightseeing events, so I didn’t get to touch base with half the people I know out there). Anyway, due to bad weather we didn’t get in until 2 a.m. EST, so my best-laid plans to return to the blog this morning were for naught.
I had a bunch of things on my to-blog list but never got to them, and now I’ll be out-of-blog for the next week. In the meantime, a few links:
*Alex Belth has a long excerpt about Barry Bonds from Howard Bryant’s new book on steroids. Overlooked here is the extent to which tension has arisen from the fact that baseball writers thought they had come to terms, by 2000, with who Bonds was and his place in the game’s history, before he abruptly violated everyone’s expectations with his unnatural after-35 surge.
*Eugene Volokh notes that profanity makes him uneasy mainly because of its association with anger. I would add that this is a major reason why the likes of Kos and Atrios so frequently come off as nasty and unhinged: the endless use of foul language on their blogs gives the reader the distinct impression that these are angry, hate-filled guys, and that limits their ability to persuade people who aren’t already like-minded. That’s a major, major difference between Kos and RedState, where profanity is banned, and it really affects the tone.
I don’t actually have anything against foul language, as I probably use too much of it myself in my daily life. And sometimes, it’s hard to make quite the point you want to make without it. But there are real costs involved, which is one reason why I don’t use that kind of language on the blog.
*Jeff Goldstein has some choice words for the lame excuses being peddled for the New York Times to investigate the adoption of John Roberts’ two small children. The upside may be the Clarence Thomas Effect, which is the opposite of the “Greenhouse Effect”: the more the Left personally attacks Roberts during his confirmation, the more likely it is that he will dig his heels in and resist drifting leftward on the bench.
*I had wanted to excerpt this, but you should go read this Seattle Times article and its accompanying sidebar (links via Simmons’ intern) on conversations on the baseball field.
*Sports fans, don’t try this at home. Um, to put it mildly . . .
*The White House should have tried this earlier.
*Interesting profile of Jon Corzine.
*Don Luskin has really been on a roll lately, skewering Paul Krugman here and here.
*Some good stuff from Bob Somerby on George Tenet’s possible role in the Plame disclosure and the general incompetence of the CIA spokesman in waving Novak off.
*More on Matt McGough’s book “Bat Boy” here and here.
*This executive summary is a good place to start in reviewing a thorough and detailed report on how the bulk of incidents of voter suppression, intimidation and fraud in 2004 were perpetrated by Democrats (link via Dales). The group behind the study is apparently technically nonpartisan, but obviously conservative. Go read the whole thing.
Leaving aside the entries for the World and the EU, the eleven most populous nations on earth – the 11 with 100 million people apiece – according to the CIA Factbook, are as follows; see if you can fill in the blanks:
3. United States
I left in the easier ones (including Russia, which is dropping like a rock on this list). The answers are below the fold.
Apparently, Easthampton, Massachusetts has had a little trouble putting up highway signs. Via War Liberal. (Pictures of the signs here).
Michele says that “I think Command Post has run its course. We might find some way to keep it alive, but for the most part, it’s on the way out.” Which is sad, as TCP provided a valuable service as a breaking-news source during the Iraq invasion, key moments in the 2004 election, and other times when new news was flying fast and furious. I hope the site sticks around to be used again, for the next big event.
That said, I haven’t posted over there myself in some time, nor do I even read the site that much anymore, and the traffic numbers don’t lie:
The main purpose of TCP after the invasion was to provide a one-stop-shop for news on the war on terror and the war in Iraq. Now, though, there are many more blogs covering those issues with depth and focus (Winds of Change comes to mind), and having a group blog dedicated to news aggregation where most of the bloggers are not even using it as their primary blog just doesn’t seem to be cutting it any longer. If it is farewell, it’s a sad day, but also a reminder that the only constant on the web is change.
*Gerry Daly has a must-read work of original research on John Roberts’ Supreme Court arguments and the Justices he was able to win over to his side in non-unanimous cases.
*I do not find this reassuring.
*More bad thoughts on the Deuce Bigelow sequel; it’s not just the left-wing politics that bother me about Hollywood, it’s the stupid left-wing politics. And they wonder why box office is down.
*Frank Lautenberg thinks conservatives like the Vice President should not be permitted to enter New Jersey.
*Would it be bad of me to hope that this happens to this?
*Wuzzadem looks ahead to the Roberts hearings; I’m not sure they are likely to be this dignified. Via Malkin.
*I found Captain V through a link on NRO; check out this post on the CIA’s use of cover:
I don’t recall who first offered up the idea, but it is a good one: Don’t let people who are destined for lives under cover near the DC area (CIA isn’t the only agency that has people under cover). It invites carelessness and complacency.
So, I’m out of commission all day after having a tooth pulled, and I’m feeling like I have a good excuse – what with the painkillers, loss of blood, etc. – for neither working nor blogging today. And then I see that Instapundit had dental surgery today too and still managed to get 16 posts up. You’re makin’ me look bad!
*Go vote in Mac Thomason’s tournament to determine the most annoying ESPN on-air personality!
*Charlie Cook thinks it’s the Democrats who need to worry about party unity on judges, not Republicans. And check out The National Journal’s daily Blogometer.
*Dr. Weevil notes the loathsome Juan Cole’s insistence on using the term “guerilla” to describe what any sane person would call terrorism:
When you’re firing mortars at a market full of unarmed civilians, or murdering unarmed barbers, you are a not a guerrilla, or even an unlawful combatant, but a common murderer. And when you do it to terrorize the general population, as is quite obviously the case here, you are a terrorist. Why can’t Cole use that word?
This is of a piece with the BBC’s decision to declare the term doubleplus ungood. I didn’t necessarily think it was accurate for the Bush Administration to call the insurgents “terrorists” when they first started attacking US troops, but given that the bulk of the attacks these days are aimed at Iraqi civilians (indeed, if they weren’t, we could leave without much consequence), the term obviously fits.
You know, I understand why there can’t be universal agreement on a truly comprehensive definition of terrorism, but there’s no morally defensible reason why there can’t be common agreement on a minimum definition of terrorism: when non-regular combatants (i.e., no uniform, no accountable chain of command, etc.) direct violence at primarily civilian/non-combatant targets, that’s terrorism, period. (When the same violence is directed by regular combatants in a declared war between combatant nations, that’s a different story, albeit in most cases equally objectionable – different, because the offending nation and its own populace can be held directly accountable). People like Cole just can’t bring themselves to condemn terrorism because that would undermine the noble and treasured endeavor of suicide bombings against Israeli civilians.
*You would think that this case is more important and interesting than the Aruba Police Blotter. And this may have been missed by the media altogether, and may not lend itself to any obvious solution, but that doesn’t make it any less tragic.
*Tom Elia says rooting for both the Cubs and the White Sox is a sign of the sickness of our age.
*Dean Barnett writes for the Weekly Standard that the Democrats are making a mistake in following the lead of the left blogosphere (hat tip: RedState). I’ve made this point before.
*The list of things potentially (a) classified or (b) harmful to national security that have been leaked through the NY Times in the past five years would be so long as to defy enumeration; Powerline notes a prominent and egregious example. Yet, somehow, only one riles.
*Stephen Green predicts that an economic slowdown will lead to saber-rattling by China. His prediction is swiftly fulfilled.
*When they get to the movie of “Namor the Sub-Mariner,” it’s time for Hollywood to just throw in the towel.
*He who Laffs last Laffs best.
*The Pope thinks the Harry Potter books offer “subtle seductions that work imperceptibly, and because of that deeply, and erode Christianity in the soul before it can even grow properly. This was written by then-Cardinal Ratzinger in apparent approval of a book arguing that the Potter books (1) “blur the boundaries between good and evil and impair young readers’ ability to distinguish between the two” and (2) “glorify the world of witches and magicians at the expense of the human world.”
With all due respect to the Holy Father, the latter charge is silly – that’s the nature of fantasy and sci-fi stories, even those written by ardent Catholics like Tolkein, and isn’t a problem because in the real world there are no wizards – and the former charge just doesn’t withstand contact with the actual books, which paint a very clear contrast between good and evil in all its forms, including cowardice, prejudice, snobbery, malicious gossip, jealousy, paranoia, overweening ambition, and joy in inflicting pain.
*John Cole has the latest on Abu Ghraib and Gitmo, with some news reports that bear very careful reading before you jump to conclusions.
*Blogger Chris Short discusses growing up in a cult. Hat tip: Jeff Quinton.
*They’ve dropped baseball and softball from the Olympics. Sad, but Olympic baseball was really never a main event in the baseball world. There’s something to be said for my older brother’s view that no sport should be in the Olympics if winning an Olympic gold medal isn’t the biggest event on the sport’s calendar.
*I missed this whole Jeter-A-Rod fight story when it happened, as well as the 100th anniversary of Moonlight Graham’s cup of coffee.
Greg Gutfeld plumbs the true depths of Karl Rove’s dark powers, and even fingers him in the death of Bo Diaz! (Link via NRO).
Well, I’m back, if not entirely ready to pick up where I left off. My wife and I spent a few days in the Bahamas celebrating (a month early) our 10th wedding anniversary – we’d never been to a tropical island, so it seemed like a good time to finally spring for a big vacation.
Of course, the day we get there turns out to have been a big news day, but I was calmed by the fact that President Bush and Attorney General Gonzales were both out of the country, so it would be a few days, at least, before we get a big announcement.
Taking a break from the blog for the long weekend – I should be back on Wednesday or so. Enjoy the 4th of July.
*John Hawkins interviews the incomparable Mark Steyn.
*“[B]eing a terrorist makes me a good Muslim”. As the reader who sent this in points out, “It’s also interesting – although not terribly surprising – that TIME seems to have better sources within the insurgency than they do within the US military.”
*More Rehnquist and O’Connor rumors from RedState here and here. Ramesh is hearing the same things about replacements but nothing on resignations.
*This, via NRO, is classic:
COSTAS: If you had been elected president last November, by this point what would President John Kerry have done in Iraq?
KERRY: Well, I laid out — you know, I don’t want to get in — I mean, I think that’s not quite the way to go at it.
After that, Kerry launches back into his usual style, such as taking the words of unfriendly foreign leaders at face value. The man never changes.
*Drezner on the Iranian elections.
*One step at a time.
*I did not know that Evan Thomas of Newsweek was the grandson of Socialist presidential candidate Norman Thomas, but I can’t say I’m surprised.
“‘Twas the day after Sunday, and all through my site,
Not a visitor was active, not getting a bite;
My posts had been writ with the greatest of care,
In the hopes that some comments would fill up dead air;
“My referrers log empty, most bloggers would scoff,
My visions of blogofame seemed quite far off;
No trolls came to visit, leaving posts in ALL CAPS,
So I settled my head for a sorrowful nap;
“But now my Sitemeter spun faster and faster,
I clicked “referred by”, thinking ‘who’s the spam blaster’;
When what to my bloodshot, wet eyes should be seen,
but “instapundit.com” that was filling the screen;
“Much faster than spambots the linkers they came,
I shouted and yelled as I called out their names:
‘Oh Billy, oh Steven, oh Cut On the Bias,
Daimnation, Yay Chrenkoff, Atlas Shrugs, and the Argghhh!!! guys,
From the depths of all blogdom and blogrolls so small,
Now link away, link away, link away all!'”